||October 1, 2007
The Zen Yoga program promotes a healthy body, mind, and spirit. At a deeper level, a commitment to Zen Yoga can illuminate ways to encourage enlightenment, radiate harmony and live in full awareness of the present moment.
Barnes & Noble.com
Zen Yoga is the culmination of the more than twenty-five years Aaron Hoopes has spent studying and training in the practical and spiritual arts of Japan, China and India. In this book, he combines the mindful serenity of Zen meditation, the graceful movements of Tai Chi, the energized breathing of Qigong, and the peaceful stretching exercises of Shanti Yoga. He then blends breathing, moving, stretching, and relaxation exercises into a unique discipline that opens up to anyone, regardless of age or physical condition, the potential for experiencing a new way of living. But Zen Yoga is more than a simple exercise program. It offers a formula to guide us toward a healthier, happier, fitter, and more peaceful state of being.
In engaging, easily-understood prose, Hoopes begins by defining the concepts and explaining his ideas on Zen, Yoga, the Chakras, Chi energy, and the Tao. The next part of the book focuses on breathing, moving, and relaxing exercises, with a final section on spiritual deepening that shows how the experience of Zen Yoga can be merged with the personal spiritual inclinations of the individual. The book includes detailed photographs showing correct positions and sequence of movements.
Zen Yoga is a holistic system. It unites all aspects of the human self by meeting the fundamental needs of physical health, mental clarity and spiritual peace. It is a spiritual discipline that is vast and profound.
It is Zen and it is Yoga.
Zen Yoga is based on the peaceful stretching and breathing exercises of Shanti Yoga. Shanti Yoga is non-stressful. It encourages going at your own pace and only doing what is right for you. Everyone is different. We come in all shapes and sizes. Learning how your own body functions is of the utmost importance.
Zen Yoga is also based on the energized breathing and moving philosophy of Chinese Chi Kung (sometimes written Qigong) and Tai Chi. Chi Kung is the ancient Chinese practice of breathing exercises that fills the body with oxygen-rich blood and energy. Tai Chi can be described as moving meditation. Its graceful, flowing movements encourage the circulation of energy.
Zen Yoga is also based on the mental serenity achieved through Zen meditation. Learning to calm the myriad thoughts that are continuously vying for attention within the mind allows us to think more clearly and with greater insight.
Zen Yoga also contains elements of various oriental martial arts as well as some Western sports activities. Even if you are engaged in a different exercise system, Zen Yoga can be an invaluable supplement to your training.
But, most assuredly, Zen Yoga is much more than a set of physical exercises. Through the integration of body, mind and spirit Zen Yoga creates flexibility, health, vitality and peace of mind.
The pace of modern life is characterized by hectic social and economic activity. We generate stress in our daily lives as our concentration is fractured and our energy is sapped. Exercise is put on the back burner because we are so caught up in all of the other things that are demanding our attention. Zen Yoga seeks to reverse this flow.
Its benefits include:
• Stress relief
• Increased will power
• Improved concentration
• Improved blood circulation and release of toxins and impurities from the body
• Toning and strengthening of muscles
• More restful sleep
Even more important, by bringing into balance proper and effective breathing, movement, and deep relaxation practices, we can become aware of and learn to access the natural energy of the universe, called Chi or Prana (see next chapter).
Practicing Zen Yoga is not meant to be an aggressive or rigorous physical workout. Instead, it seeks to challenge you to realize your own potential by stretching, moving and breathing at your own pace. There are no comparisons with how well other people can do the exercises. If you are doing your best, that is the best way of doing it. It is not a competition. It is not a contest. It is simply a way to feel better and better, to be happy and healthy, and to enjoy life to the fullest.
Deep within each of us lies the potential for perfection. This potential is spiritual in nature and is often blocked or displaced by the difficulties we face in life. Zen Yoga offers the opportunity to become aware of that spiritual essence and give it the nourishment it needs to grow and flourish.
Zen Yoga is not about what you can’t do. It has been designed to be accessible to anyone regardless of their level of fitness or spiritual development. The most important challenge comes from within. Most of us are seeking more from life. Unfortunately, life, itself, often gets in the way of our search. Zen Yoga offers an opportunity to get to know the self…to feel happy, healthy and alive.
Learn what your own body can and cannot do.
Learn what your body will and won’t do.
Learn to accept yourself.
…and learn to love yourself.
ZEN YOGA........what being truly alive feels like.
With an uncomplicated and direct approach Aaron Hoopes guides the reader effortlessly through each chapter, cutting through ambiguity often associated with ancient Eastern philosophical traditions such as the Chakras, the Five Elements and the Tao. He uncovers the mysteries surrounding these traditions, making them accessible to anybody who has a genuine desire to enrich their present lifestyle.
The stunning Zen Yoga poses depicted in black and white photography throughout this book are presented in a step by step easy to follow format. While the advanced poses offer the reader an inspiring insight into where practicing Zen Yoga can take the human body.
Aaron also teaches us how to Breathe, with a straightforward series of Zen Yoga qigong breathing exercises designed to attract and circulate Chi energy throughout the body, increase mental clarity, reduce stress, assist in weight loss and bring the practitioner an upward spiral of positive energy, the result of which is a rare insight into what being truly alive feels like.
The simplicity of the profound information contained within this book make it the perfect handbook for anybody who is seeking a path to fulfillment, self-discovery and optimum physical wellbeing.
One of a kind yoga book
Aaron has done an amazing job with this book, I really have a lot of respect for what he has done here.
To start off with this is not just a book about yoga postures, its a unique book, its amazing how much breath of useful information he is packed in this book, written in a very zen-like way, consise, insightfull and no-nonsense to the point.
For example, in one statement he indicates yoga is not something you do twice a week it has to be integrated in your every day routine just like brushing your teeth, taking a shower.
The highlights for me is the way he has structured the book covering everything from meditation, breathing, postures and relaxation.
I particularly liked the breathing and relaxation sections. He has a range of breathing techniques, I particularly liked the way he described breathing to be slow and deep, something I have not read anywhere before. Also he has covered a range of breathing, double breathing, gigong breathing etc.
The relaxation techniques are interesting eg. the zen walk a sort of walk where you put one foot infront of the other while inhaling and exhaling, sounds a bit silly until you do it and notice the concentratation, balance and focus required to do it, another zenlike exercise. Also he has combined progressive relaxation techniques with his breathing techniques.
I love some of the qoutes he used:
Namaste - The devine in me greets the devine in you.
Overall a highly structured well thought out and research book, definately one that is usefull for both the beginner and advanced yogi.
your path to the top of the mountain
Aaron begins his book with an ancient Chinese saying that the only path that leads to the top of the mountain is the one you make yourself. That said, we all need all the help and gentle guidance we can get to find and travel our own path, and to savor our experiences along the way. "Zen Yoga" is a wonderful resource for this help and guidance. I especially enjoyed the quotations throughout the book, that there's a whole chapter about breathing, and the seven practical truths on page 181. The third of these says "Do what you're able. It's not about what you can't do." Keep this in mind when you look at the photos for the movements and postures which may be intimidating to a lot of us -- neither the book or the whole Zen Yoga concept are about getting your body to do to what Aaron can do. It's all about finding your own peace with this body and this breath, here, now. I'd recommend this book highly as an insightful, well-informed, encouraging resource to help you on your path.
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